Believe Me

Inspired by V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #60: Belief

This week, let’s think about the beliefs – personally, socially, culturally – that define our realities.

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bxw rock

 

The most profound disappointment in life is when your truth is not believed.

When reality becomes distorted. By people who matter. And even by people who don’t matter.

But those close to you…that’s when the knife cuts the deepest. Because the hope hangs on. And on. And on. Maybe if this, maybe if that….then they’ll believe me.

Wait, I know that’s what happened. I was there. I heard it. I saw it.

But what if we are programmed from an early age to tell the world – or, more specifically, our world – family, friends – no everything is just fine.

My father would stare into the sad face of one of his children and chant over and over: Don’t Smile! Don’t Smile! Don’t Smile! Laughing…as he repeated his mantra. He’d crouch down and get right in front of a small unhappy face, his mouth stretched tight in a wide grin. His brown eyes, behind thick glasses, betrayed the frivolity. They were mocking. Perhaps fearful.
As if we presented the impossible possibility that one so small and helpless could struggle with an emotion so complicated, so fraught with need.
Need for compassion, understanding, some measure of support. Validation. That we mattered.

I understand now why. He had no idea how to respond. Maybe he was overwhelmed. As it reflected his own dark emotional beliefs. The message: Don’t Be Sad. Deny the Sad. It’s not okay.

Of course, it didn’t take long for our smiles to take shape. If for nothing else, to make the laughing father stop. Smiles did not match up with the eyes or heart. And especially they did not reflect our truth.

My mother, on the other hand, would ask us what we did wrong to cause this emotion that made her so uncomfortable.

I didn’t know what to believe.

Now I do.

 

deering A

Quote of the Day…Worth Mentioning

Inspired by V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #59: Worth Mentioning

What has inspired you lately? A song, an image, a quotation? This week’s challenge is to share something “worth mentioning.”

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Loneliness is the poverty of self; solitude is the richness of self.

May Sarton

 

This quote leapt out at me recently…from a page in a weekly magazine.

Food for thought…and discussion…worth mentioning.

 

pond reflection

 

 

 

Five Words

Inspired by V.J.’s Weekly Challenge: Just when I thought…

Life seldom unfolds in straight lines. It’s not necessary to repeat the prompt phrase, but this week let’s think about the times when life has turned an abrupt corner, or caught us off guard.

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This topic jettisons me back almost 30 years to one of those moments. Which caught me off guard…and remains clear in my memory even now.

You hear so much advice as a new parent. Or a young parent. It comes at you from every direction. Other parents. Friends. Family members. Books. Magazine articles. I’m talking pre-internet…when I was raising children.

In the midst of all this advice, there were times I neglected the inner barometer. My parenting radar and instincts still not fully developed.

My 3 year old son’s 8 month experience at a local daycare center was one of those times. When I should have picked up on the signs. That it wasn’t the best place for him; even at only 2 days a week.

Irritability. Anger. Clingyness. But not all the time. I increasingly felt something was off, but rationalized my uneasiness…as over-reacting to normal toddler adjustments.

Until an exchange one evening while changing his diaper. When paying attention became front and center. And a turning point for me…

I am a bad boy.

The words jarring and new…from a child who talked little. Dark green eyes glanced up at me, and then away.

I froze; his two ankles balanced between the fingers of my left hand as I tried to still their movement. He was anxious to be off the changing table. Arms and legs swinging up. Down. Sideways. Body twisting. Trying to roll over. Two damp middle fingers plunged deep in his mouth. No more words came as the sucking became rhythmic.

With my free hand, I smoothed blonde hair back from his forehead.

His eyes met mine. SweetieYou are a Good Boy. A wonderful boy. And I love you!

I pulled the diaper up between his legs and gently held it on his belly. I let go of his legs. They scissored the air like bike pedals. Wrinkled fingers slid out of his mouth.

Bad Boy he repeated.

I leaned closer…You are the best boy in the whole world.

He strained to be upright. I pinned the diaper, pulled up the pants and stood him on the table. We were almost eye-to-eye.

I felt my outrage growing, the tears close behind….

You Are A Good Boy.

I kissed his cheek. Wrapped my arms around him. Lifted him up. He hooked his little boy legs around my waist and rested his head on my shoulder. His body finally still.

I knew there was only one place he could have heard those words…and gotten that message.

I withdrew him from the daycare center.
I quit my consulting job.

And learned a hard lesson…

t beach

Follow your instincts.
Pay attention.

Children let you know what they need.

 

Presence

Inspired by V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #57: Presence

 

woods presence

 

Do you shop at this store alot?

I looked around and my eyes settled on a woman about my age. Dark hair. Glasses. Head swiveling from shelf to shelf, before meeting my gaze.

Yes I do.

She smiled…Do you know where I can find the cornstarch? I’ve looked and looked.

We were standing in the baking aisle. Clearly the right place.

It should be in the baking aisle. Which is this one.

She thanked me and started to wheel her cart away, giving up the search.

I spotted 4 varieties of cornstarch on the top shelf and called out…I found it. Here it is.

Thank you so much!

She dropped the cornstarch into her cart and added…Now what can I do for you?

What can she do for me?
Remarkable.
To be Clearly Present in a public place…
Seen. Heard. Acknowledged. Offered assistance.
A full circle personal exchange.
Quite Noteworthy.

Interesting thing about these advancing years. Well, maybe not so much interesting as downright alarming and often depressing…is how we become more invisible. When exactly did the page turn to this chapter?

When you start to fade from public view. Even when you are in the public view.

Was it a certain age? A shift in job status? The nest? What?

I am still trying to figure it out. It shouldn’t matter that I can’t walk as fast.
Drink as much. Eat the same. Sit as long. Stay up as late.
As I used to.

Obviously I didn’t pay close enough attention to any warning signs pointing to my impending invisibility. But perhaps there wasn’t anything I could do about it. Except to develop the presence of mind to reclaim my spot. When I’m ignored. Or dismissed. Interrupted mid-sentence. Deemed irrelevant.

After all, as the infamous line from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” repeats…I’m not dead yet!

Maybe if I’d known what to expect, I wouldn’t get as pissed off about it.

However…let’s think positive.

There is the grocery store. Which is a start. Apparently I am very present…not sure why. For random fellow shoppers – of all ages…with burning comments and questions: Is that a good brand of bread? What is the best gluten free pasta up there? Do you know that those detergent pods burn holes in your clothes? I love your sweater, where did you get it? Does that chicken look fresh? That broccoli isn’t too good, is it. Where do you get your hair cut? I can’t find a damn thing in this store since they remodeled it, can you?

And a few days ago…What can I do for you?

I understand about being present in my personal life.
But me, myself and I is not enough.

In the meantime…at least I know where the cornstarch is.

 

cornstarch

 

Language

Inspired by V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #56: Language

This week, let’s think about language. Notice the places where words flow confidently and those where words falter.

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You did too much

My mother admonished me after I made my way down the stairs into the living room…two days before Christmas in 1986. After I discovered blood where there shouldn’t have been any. My hand smoothing my slightly rounded belly – as if that would stop what was happening.

What I feared was happening…

As I called out from the small confines of our brand new second floor bathroom. A short distance from a third bedroom…finished a few months earlier. Space for a new family member.

My voice unheard over the cranked up stereo down below…You Better Watch Out You Better Not Cry…in anticipation of the holiday to come. My 4 year old daughter over the moon excited about Santa. And her grandparents’ visit.

You Did Too Much

Four words.

Language that jumpstarted slivers of guilt.  Mixed with grief and anger and fear.

Compounded by my doctor….who, hours later with eyes averted, added…

These Things Happen.
It’s Probably For The Best.

What did I do?…

The unanswered question wrapped around my heart…until the day almost a year later…when my beautiful healthy son was born. And I exhaled.

No words necessary.

Our family of four complete.

 

moon sliver copy

 

Reclaim

This post inspired by V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #55: Reclaim

 

rock wall woods

 

The things that women reclaim are often their own voice, their own values, their imagination, their clairvoyance, their stories, their ancient memories. If we go for the deeper, and the darker, and the less known we will touch the bones.
Clarissa Pinkola Estés

 

What’s done is done.
What’s over is over.

One by one she closed the chapters
Convincing herself
it was so.

She shelved them high…year after year
Dust settled slowly
Coating spine after spine.

But that glimmer still surfaced
Again and again
A nagging suspicion…

Is done really done?
Is over really…over?

So she emptied the shelf
And cracked open each volume
To travel chapter by chapter

From whisper to shout
Addendum in process
The jury still out.